We take a look at this week’s biggest developments, research and investment news from the world of Health Tech.
Cigna and Microsoft have joined forces to create a fun and innovative way to capture health metrics. The new digital tool BioBall is a handheld, electronic orb that works with a VR headset to guide users through an interactive game whilst at the same time measuring their vital signs. “Preventive care is an important part of staying healthy, but we know that unfortunately, Americans only use preventive services at about half the recommended rate, even though it’s covered at 100 percent with most insurance,” Cigna’s Chief Brand Officer Stephen Cassell told Mobi Health News. “Through technology and other digital strategies, Cigna can make health care more fun and engaging to encourage individuals to get their check-ups and potentially detect health issues early.”
The National Bank of Australia will be working with Medipass Solutions, their simple aim being to connect practitioners with patients on an “Uber-like” platform. They expect the platform will allow users to make appointments, receive cost estimates and aid with claiming for the consultation or taking care of payment, leveraging the NAB-owned health claims and payment system (HICAPS). “The solution delivers a seamless and transparent experience for patients, practitioners, and health insurers, through a digitally integrated platform; the first of its kind globally with such breadth and capability” says NAB executive general manager NAB labs Jonathan Davey.
IT healthcare firms System C and Graphnet are working with Microsoft to aid the Trust. They are intending to use Microsoft-powered wearable devices, video calling and predictive technology to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its patient care. The Trust also intends to use HealthVault Insights and Azure machine learning to collate patient data, allowing practitioners to spot trends and identify problems quickly as well as detect symptoms earlier. “Next generation healthcare IT is about agile clinician-friendly and patient-facing systems operating across care communities, and the integration of healthcare applications with modern communication tools,” said Ian Denley, a doctor and chief executive of System C. “The day of traditional monolithic systems is almost over.”
The social media giant hope the technology will be able to identify those at risk as well as improving the response/reporting process. In a company blog posted they stated “…we are testing a streamlined reporting process using pattern recognition in posts previously reported for suicide…this artificial intelligence approach will make the option to report a post about ‘suicide or self-injury’ more prominent for potentially concerning posts like these.” In its initial testing phase, Facebook employees will be monitoring and reviewing posts flagged by the technology and promise to provide resources if the situation calls for it, even if the posts have not been flagged.
The company have had a series of successful quarters ($171.2 million in revenue, up 31% year over year). CEO Kevin Sayer was quoted on his Q4 earnings call saying ““In a year of much confusion and turmoil in the diabetes industry, DexCom grew revenues more than 40 percent, an annual increase of approximately $170 million in worldwide revenue, a number that’s, quite frankly, more amazing than the percentage when you compare DexCom to everybody else in our industry.” However, what also came out of the earnings call was news on Dexcom’s planned product launches. They plan to release an updated G5 transmitter this year with a new touchscreen receiver, an Android platform and new app features amongst other additions.
The planned sensor could eventually provide results on heart rate, respiration rate, temperature and more. They are beginning trials now hoping to submit the device for FDA clearance soon with the aim of licensing the new tech to major smartphone makers within a few years. “The important thing about our approach which seems unique — and we have patents on this — is we actually use the same science that was being used by doctors for a long time with a cuff on the upper arm to measure blood pressure,” LMD CEO Mark-Eric Jones told MobiHealthNews. “And that is to change the pressure outside the body and see at what pressure the blood flow stops and starts, both at the systole when the heart is pumping and the diastole when it’s relaxed. So it’s very old science, we’re not trying to apply new science to any of these measurements. What we’re trying to apply is new technologies to make it very low cost and integratable into a smartphone.”
In order to do so, the group are forming a new unit “Healthcare NExT” to ensure they can take Microsoft’s technology and apply it directly to enhancing patient care, medical research and medical tools. “Research NExT” which was formed in late 2014 has already resulted in many new, future-gazing tech bringing sci-fi to real-life, they hope this initiative will allow for similar results in healthcare. In the near future, Microsoft are looking for pragmatic opportunities that will be able to make a difference says Dr. Peter Lee, CVP of Microsoft Research, he has described the possibilities as endless and states they are all “having a great time.”
The digital healthcare startup converts hardcopy medical records into digitised electronic medical records (EMRs) that are integrated into the country’s healthcare system. They hope this will help medical clinics achieve compliance as healthcare providers in the country must keep medical records for at least six years. They store all scanned records on Amazon Web Services. One of the backers was quoted saying “We backed Vault Dragon because it has so thoroughly addressed the complications that come with adopting digital systems in a clever way that means little or no change to the established workflow in clinics. Ching and his team stood out because they have clear vision on two complementary scales,” said Ivan Lee, Founder and Chairman, Raging Bull.
The discussion was brought up in the House of Commons this week following reports that the NHS misplaced over half a million patient documents. An SNP member challenged the Health Secretary stating that Scotland has been more digitised than England for several years now. He stressed the importance of the switch stating, “this has been a big priority for this Government, and we have made big progress. More than two thirds of hospital A&E departments can now access a summary of people’s GP records, and we are going further every month.”
The company offer a cloud-based app system for medication adherence. Patients get a reminder to take their meds from their smartphones and then are prompted to record their doses too. In the event they do not record that they have taken their meds, family and friends are informed. They have said they would like to use some of the funds to expand into Europe. “We’re expanding into Europe because we are seeing significant demand, particularly on the pharma side,” VP of Marketing and Business Development Jon Michaeli told MobiHealthNews. “The payer models and others will take time to emerge, but with pharma we are seeing significant demands out of Europe, so it made sense for us to expand our business there.”